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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

September 11 and your Mental Health Today

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 11th 2008

world trade centerIt is almost impossible to make sense out of tragedies that personally afflict us. 9/11 is one of those tragedies and for many who lost a loved one it is close to impossible to accept that this happened. It's been 7 years now since the planes came out of the sky and while to some it is becoming a memory; to many it is still very real.

Whether you lost someone close to you during 9/11 or some other event in your life, read on. Often in our culture we strive to habitually try and get away from the pain in our lives. Personal tragedy sometimes instills a hurt that may never go away. So how do people deal with this deep primal pain? Some may choose to become cynical of the world so if other painful things happen they are prepared. Or others may check out emotionally, putting up walls between themselves and others, so they don't get too close to people and don't experience the deep hurt if tragedy falls again. Yet others experience the pain and try and find meaning in it as a way to cope.

There's no question. Sometimes there are events that happen to us in this world that we can't control, but what we come to understand when we get some distance from them, is that we can control how we respond to them. Victor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and Psychiatrist said,

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."

There is a difference between reacting to our pain and responding to our pain. Reacting is akin to a knee-jerk reaction when the physician hits our knee. This is not really in our control. Responding means acknowledging the pain, letting it be, and then consciously choosing what we want to do in that moment. In learning how to approach our pain instead of avoid it, we are more able to grow from our unquestionably tragic experiences and find the freedom to the live life again.

So many bad things have happened to so many good people in this world and for many the pain is very real and acceptance of that pain creates a space to choose the response they find most supportive to themselves and others. The title of a news article today was "Buildings Fell, Heroes Rose". Perhaps one thing this tragedy showed our country was how many heroes we truly have here.

What has been your story with 9/11? Do you feel it has faded from memory or is it still very fresh? Do you have another tragedy in your life that has occurred? What has been most helpful to you in getting through it? Please, feel free to share and comment below.  

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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